Joshua Tree National Park-Day 2, Colorado Desert, Lost Palms Oasis, 7.6 miles RT, 856 +/-, Plus a Stop at Cholla Cactus Garden, January 14, 2018

Of all the times I’ve been to Joshua Tree, this was the first time we drove south through the Pinto Basin all the way to Cottonwood Spring to see the transition from the Mojave to the Colorado Desert. You won’t find Joshua Trees at elevations lower then 3,000 feet, but the Colorado Desert has its own unique beauty. Here’s where you’ll find the spindly ocotillo plant. I’ve always seen them in photos, but never made it down that far to see them in person. Our hike today was a 7.5 mile out and back to Lost Palms Oasis. Lost Palms Oasis has the largest concentration of Fan Palms in the park. Let me tell you this was a BEAUTIFUL hike! Undulating hills, lots of ups and downs on the trail, sandy washes, rocky canyons, plenty of cacti and views of the Salton Sea. We even saw a rainbow along the way. Once you arrive at the oasis, you can either scramble all the way down into the canyon under the palms, or you can enjoy the views from the overlook. If you don’t want to hike in that far, there’s a beautiful oasis right at the trailhead at Cottonwood Spring. This is a hike to do ONLY in the cooler months. They actually remove the trail from the park map in the summer to discourage people from doing it because some have died on this trail. While this was a much more populated trail then the CRH, it was still incredibly enjoyable. If you want to extend your trip, when you pass the junction to the Mastodon Peak loop, it’s about 2 extra miles to the top. We’ll save that one for another day. Before we headed out, we stopped off at the Cottonwood Visitor Center. It just so happened one of the rangers was giving a talk about rattlesnakes. I think I learned more about them today then I ever knew! It’s wonderful that these programs exist to educate people and get them outdoors to enjoy this beautiful world we live in and enjoy it wisely.

I've also included in this post some photos of our visit to the Cholla Cactus Garden.  It's on the way to Cottonwood.  If you're passing through the Pinto Basin on the way to the southern end of the park, I highly recommend taking a walk through the Cholla Cactus garden. You can't miss it. All of a sudden you'll see a patch of cute fuzzy looking cacti. But don't be fooled. These suckers will bite! Just a light brush against them and the spikes will penetrate your skin. They even have a first aid kit at the trail head with antiseptic and bandaids. LOL These little guys are known as the Bigelow Cholla, Jumping Cholla and also Teddybear Cholla. Unless you're a cactus wren or a desert woodrat, enjoy the view from a distance. 

 Starting off at Cottonwood Spring.

Starting off at Cottonwood Spring.

 There's a beautiful oasis right here at the trail head.

There's a beautiful oasis right here at the trail head.

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 Ocotillo in the Colorado Desert.

Ocotillo in the Colorado Desert.

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 One of the many washes you'll pass through on the trail.

One of the many washes you'll pass through on the trail.

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 Can you see the rainbow?

Can you see the rainbow?

 Closer view.

Closer view.

 Another wash.

Another wash.

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 Love these rocky canyons.  Reminded me of being in an old western.

Love these rocky canyons.  Reminded me of being in an old western.

 Lots of up and down on this trail make it interesting and fun.

Lots of up and down on this trail make it interesting and fun.

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 Looking over at the Salton Sea.

Looking over at the Salton Sea.

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 Arriving at Lost Palms Oasis.

Arriving at Lost Palms Oasis.

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 On top of the overlook.

On top of the overlook.

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 Heading back now.

Heading back now.

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 On the way back, a closer view of the Salton Sea.

On the way back, a closer view of the Salton Sea.

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 Very large bird up there.  I believe it may have been a golden eagle.

Very large bird up there.  I believe it may have been a golden eagle.

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 Back at Cottonwood Spring.

Back at Cottonwood Spring.

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 Images of the Cholla Cactus Garden that I took earlier in the day as we drove through the Pinto Basin on the way to Cottonwood Spring.

Images of the Cholla Cactus Garden that I took earlier in the day as we drove through the Pinto Basin on the way to Cottonwood Spring.

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